Tila and Gender

Posted: 19 December 2007 in observations, other folks, queerlife

I know you tune in here for the points, which I’ve been very lax about giving, or for the quirk.  I admit – I have a lot of quirk.  I try to spare you the ranting about work and my various passionate views about well…anything that strikes me.  But after I’ve shared a secret like yesterday’s, I feel like we’re both ready for something a little more intimate.

Specifically, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.  Let me clarify that I did not watch the show from the beginning.  In fact, it was so low on my radar as to not even make a blip.  But then, I accidentally surfed on it and recalled an article about Tila in an old issue of Rolling Stone.  At that time, she had the most Myspace friends but was otherwise unremarkable.  The article must have made a lasting impression since I stayed to watch her bisexual bachelorette show.  I didn’t think it was remarkable either, but it stuck.  D. and I watched the last three or four episodes, ashamed but enthralled.  Tila was articulate.  She made sense.  And she narrowed down all the women-as-drag-queens, run of the mill lesbians, beefcakes and dumb and drunk guys.  In the end, she had one man and one woman (no doubt in the terms of her contract), probably the two most normal people she could have ended up with. 

My problem is that, from the beginning of the finale, it was clear she would pick the man.  I found myself saying to D. “Of course she’ll pick him.  Look at the girl.  She’s so butch it’s clear Tila subconsciously wants a man anyway.”  And I was horrified.  I haven’t got anything against bisexuals.  Having enjoyed time with both men and women (and yes, I think that is steam pouring out of D.’s ears…), I can understand why she might find either gender appealing.  I think my problem was that I had a bias against butch women I didn’t know I had. 

D. is gorgeous.  Slightly curled, golden brown hair.  When she pulls it up, the curls still brush her shoulders.  Her freckles scatter over her perfectly pale skin, which highlights her green eyes when it flushes.  She has little hands that know exactly how to move and, though she wouldn’t believe it, they move both gracefully and with strength.   She has a little curve at the base of her spine that gives her just a little sway.  I don’t think of her as butch.  But I think she would argue that she is.  She is tough.  There are calluses on her hands.  She has an attitude that streams survival and will but is still a nice person.  It’s a hard balance to strike.  She wears leather well and has thick belts and broken in jeans.  She doesn’t wear girly clothes or say girly things.  She has a deep, satisfying voice.  Regardless of identification or how her body looks, she appeals to me and there’s no way I want anyone but her.

I’m surprised my first thought about Tila was not that she and the woman didn’t have the same emotional connection that you see in lovers (and they didn’t) but that butch = men.  Who knew I held such unenlightened beliefs?  Rereading, I feel like I didn’t do my thoughts justice.  I’m not even certain where I was going.  D. pointed out after the elimination that it was hard to be butch.  I imagine it must be, especially with idiots like me running around. 

  1. bipolarlawyercook says:

    It is hard to be butch, and it is hard for butches to be related to– if they exhibit any femme-y behavior, other butches call them on it, and outsiders get confused and hostile. I’ve dated butch women and less butch women, as well as some total femmes, and the gender role thing about butch/femme always rubbed me the wrong way. Too, some of the butches I have known have adopted masculine attitudes toward more feminine women– I dumped one woman because she was bossing me around and telling me how to do everything. She assumed long hair = incompetent. My best friend has been more butch than femme since coming out (she was super preppy femme before) and has recently been having a hard time with her partner, because her partner is also more butch than femme, a first for my bf, who has usually dated femme/kiki. They’re having a hard time negotiating their roles, and feeling comfortable in their own skins, and avoiding worrying about 1) stepping on each other’s toes, and 2) remaining attractive to one another. They both feel like someone has to be the femme in the relationship, but neither one particularly wants to assume the role at all, for fear of being pinned down to it all the time. It ain’t easy. I’m comparatively lucky. My better half was raised by a strong single mom and a smart older sis, so he’s pretty feminist when it comes down to it. But the fact that you’re thinking about it and processing it (even if you’re not done thinking yet) is better than 90% of the population. So, points for self awareness. : )

  2. linaria says:

    Regardless of identification or how her body looks, she appeals to me and there’s no way I want anyone but her.

    This is so sweet I actually teared up–let’s hope none of my coworkers ask me what’s wrong.

    And, yeah. You can’t be an idiot if you know you’re one.

  3. backlist says:

    I think I missed an important part of what I was saying and BLC caught it – the feminization of a butch representation on television. If I remember I’ll get to it.

    And D. is perfect for me Linaria. you aren’t the only one tearing up!

  4. rye says:

    Okay, so I’ve been thinking about commenting since you posted this because I got hooked on this show pretty early in the season. But I didn’t comment at first because I felt I didn’t have anything nearly as deep and meaningful to say as you. At the time, my only thought was “Man, I’m so pissed that she picked Bobby!”

    But the more I thought about it, the more your post made sense to me. Tila didn’t have that *spark* or whatever with Dani. But I think *I* liked Dani so much, that I didn’t want to see this. She appeared to be one of the most genuine people I’ve ever seen on a reality show. She was considerate of everyone, funny, likable, adorable. Maybe I had a little crush on her 🙂 And I was disappointed that she kind of had her heart broken. Life sucks like that sometimes.

    To be honest, though – I didn’t really think of Dani as “butch.” I felt that she was more androgynous. But that probably relates to the whole “feminization of a butch representation” thing.

  5. dylan says:

    Cheers to that. It is hard to be butch. But honestly, most of the girls who have been attracted to me, and largely my masculinity was part of their attraction, have also liked guys. I think many times it isn’t bodies we are attracted to but those gender signifiers… walk, swagger, clothing, attitude, emotions, communication… all of which are often similar for men and butches because both are mimicking stereotypical masculinity in some ways.

    Both of these entries were really thoughtful looks at Tila. I enjoyed them, thanks.

  6. linaria says:

    Dylan: I’ve got to disagree. On one hand, you’re right, it’s the masculinity that’s attractive. But most men, to me, are not *mimicking * stereotypical masculinity–they are it. I almost think that it’s impossible for them to mimic the stereotype, because there isn’t much to differentiate themselves from the real thing. But I guess you could say the same about femmes, so maybe that doesn’t hold. Either way, it’s the construction of masculinity, the way in which butches can choose certain elements and display them, which is attractive–it’s just something most biologically male people don’t seem to have for me.

    But enough gender theory. Evidently I have been missing some good TV!

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